Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Easy Ways to Limit Stress

It seems that in today’s workplace stress seems almost inevitable. And it’s killing us – according to the American Psychological Association, stress can result in headaches, muscle tension, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, lack of focus, irritability, depression, eating problems, addiction…the list goes on.

However, there are ways to combat stress, even in today’s overly connected, competitive workplace. Follow even just some of these six steps and find yourself – and your employees – significantly relaxed, calm, and most importantly, stress free.

1. Create an Oasis. In today’s business world, the presence of social connectivity creates a pressure to work, or at least be available, around the clock. An easy way to combat this is to shut down your computer and cell phone an hour before you sleep and an hour after you wake. In fact, studies have shown that the artificial light from cell phones and other electronic devices are the main factor of sleepless nights, according to a poll from The National Sleep Foundation. While this may prove difficult for those in the habit of checking e-mail, texts, etc. late at night, your body will get some much needed sleep, resulting in a more productive work day and less stress in the morning.

2. Find the “Sweet Spots.” While creating a to-do list may seem like a good idea to beat stress, an overly long list can actually backfire, making you feel like you can never get all the tasks completed. Instead, categorize each task by difficulty and then by potential impact. Once your list is categorized, you’ll probably find there are a few easy tasks that will have a big impact. Tackle those projects first, thereby taking the pressure off. For a bigger stress relief, ignore those tasks that are hard and have less of an impact.

3. Renegotiate Your Workload. High and unreasonable expectations of what you can accomplish are a big source of stress, whether it be from yourself or your employees. The cure? A reality check. Get serious about how much time you have to spend versus the amount of work that needs to be done and based on that, be realistic about what is actually going to get done.

4. Turn Off the News. The media makes money by generating strong emotions in its audience. It’s no surprise that those emotions are almost always negative: anger, fear, anxiety, dread, and frustration. While this is not necessarily work stress, it still adds unnecessary stress in your life. Listening to the news to unwind is counter effective. Whenever a news story starts to affect your negatively, do yourself a favor and change the channel.

5. Disconnect from the Uncontrollable. There are some events that you cannot control – the economy, traffic, other people’s emotions, customer decisions, etc. Worrying about things that you can’t control will not make a difference in the long run, and will only create extra stress that you don’t need, not to mention the amount of wasted energy you spend thinking about it. Focus on things you can change and don’t sweat the other stuff.

6. Avoid Stressed People. Your body is programmed to mirror the physiology of the people around you, even when you don’t realize it. Just like you can catch a cold, stress is also infectious, too. While it may not be possible for you to avoid stressed people all the time, try to limit the time you spend around those people, at least until your stress is in control. What can happen is the same infectious quality – your calmness will have a positive impact on those stressed out individuals, creating a more peaceful work place.

The important thing to remember is stress does not have to control your life, and can be managed. Nip those stressful urges before they begin and you’ll find your workplace transform into a calming environment.

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